N.ª Sr.ª D’Aires Sanctuary
According to several authors, the Sanctuary is an “architectural model of reference in History of Alentejo Art context of the eighteenth century”,”one of the five eighteenth century churches that best documents the general trends of Alentejo provincial architecture” associated with”Mafra’s «cycle» and the international baroque eclecticism”.
A place of ancient human presence – documented by the vestiges found there, at least since the Roman Age – and frequent passage of travelers, the construction of a sanctuary predecessor from the existing and Senhora’s image origin venerated at the altar are surrounded in two legends widely promoted: one published by Frei Agostinho de Santa Maria in his work “Mariano Sanctuary” and another legacy by oral tradition.
This Sanctuary replaced a primitive construction of the XVI century, that was demolished in 1743 to begin the works of the new building. The origin’s reason of the primitive temple in the sixteenth century is made through two elements: on the one hand the fact that the record of the first miracles attributed to N.ª Sr.ª D’Aires goes back to 1582, inserting itself in the Mariano fervor of the Counter-Reformation; on the other hand, the finding existence in Viana, in this century, of individuals with the nickname Vaqueiro who integrated the Vianese nobility, which is in line with the legendary attribution to Martim Vaqueiro according to determination of the old church’s construction.